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more dinosaur books

I've e-mailed Jennifer some of the past discussion of books from this
list's NCR incarnation.  I figured that while I was on the subject I
might throw in some info about two other books which I've recently
acquired and which I don't think have been discussed here at all.

The first is sort of aimed at children, but it's much better than
anything in print when I was a child.  I haven't looked through it
carefully, but I'm fairly impressed with what I've seen of it.  The
book is _The Ultimate Dinosaur Book_, (David Lambert, (c) 1993, Dorling
Kindersley, London, ISBN 1-56458-304-X).  You may have seen volumes
such as _The Ultimate Tyrannosaurus Rex_, _The Ultimate Tricerotops_
etc.  This book looks like those, but it has the all-inclusive flavor
of the recently advertised Dinosaur Encyclopedia put out by the
Dinosaur Society.  The "Ultimate" books have been written in
association with The Natural History Museum of London.

I say that the book is aimed at children because it relies more on
pictures than words, but the subject material is not at all
oversimplified.  I think that an adult wanting to learn the basics of
dinosaur biology would do well with this book.  And the pictures are
spectacular.  In many cases scale models are made of the dinosaurs
being depicted, and in some cases the inferred internal structures of
the animals have been rendered in this fashion as well.  I'm
particularly impressed with the Brachiosaur model on pages 94-95; I
can't really do the picture justice, but basially it shows many of the
muscles, bones, digestive organs, reproductive organs etc. as they
might fit inside the body of the beast.  In many other places,
"cutaway" paintings are overlain on photos of mounted skeletons.  The
descriptions of each of the animals also contains a timeline and
geographic information indicating when and where the animals lived.

The other book is _Dinosaurs Rediscovered_, by Don Lessem (co-author
with John Horner of the _The Complete Tyrannosaurus Rex_ (not to be
confused with _The Ultimate Tyrannosaurus Rex_ :-)).  The book was
published in 1992 by Touchstone, New York, ISBN: 0-671-79715-8 for the
paperback, or 0-671-73491-1 for the hardcover.  I haven't had a chance
to read it yet either, and my description must be less full since it
has fewer pictures :-)  However, the book goes into much greater
depths--it's clearly aimed at an older (or at least more dinosaur gung
ho) audience.  I think the best sort of advertisement I can give for
the book is a couple of excerpts that give a feel for the writing (at
least the writing I've had time to read :-)  I think you'll agree that
it has an insider's flavor, and shows how human personalities enrich
and/or interfere with scientific research.

On pages 149-150, Lessem talks about Robert T. Bakker:

        Robert Bakker, more than any other scientist, is
     responsible for popularizing the notion of dinosaurs as swift,
     hot-blooded animals.  Bakker attempts to answer the
     as-yet-unanswerable questions the public asks about dinosaurs:
     How did they act, look, and live?  For two decades he's done so
     in a highly entertaining and plausible manner--casting himself
     and a few other researchers as heretics tilting against an Ivy
     League establishment orthodoxy.  Bakker's views have shaped
     public perceptions of dinosaurs and dinosaur science.  And those
     views are themselves shaped by one of the most contentious
     careers in modern science.

          Few scientists support Bakker's methods or
     conclusions.  Yet some evolutionary biologists and
     paleontologists agree with Stahmer's assessment of
     "Dr. Bob", Stephen Jay Gould among them.  The more
     charitable dinosaur workers acknowledge Bakker's unique
     talents for spinning off fresh ideas and thus stimulating
     research and engaging deep and widespread public interest in
     dinosaurs.  However, few, if any , of his colleagues applaud
     Bakker's efforts unreservedly.  And to some he is an
     irresponsible media hound, a slapdash researcher.
on page 89, Lessem is talking about the discovery of _Protoavis_:
          The discovery of _Protoavis_ is not the first occasion on
     which, as Chatterjee's admirers would point out, he's made
     spectacular discoveries.  Nor the first occasion, as his
     detractors would point out, when he's derived a dramatic,
     unorthodox, and perhaps wrongheaded conclusion.


The discussion of _Protoavis_ is fairly long; on pg. 99 Lessem

          The criticism of Chatterjee's radical but unpublished
     conclusions about _Protoavis_ has taken on an unusually acid
     personal tone.  University of California/Berkeley professor Kevin
     Padian boldly criticized Chatterjee's approach in print.  Padian
     is a well-trained cladist himself. He is also a man of strongly
     voiced opinions.  He included _Protoavis_ in a paper on
     misrepresentations of paleontological science, concluding: "Few
     people have seen the material, though those that have are largely
     skeptical that it represents a single animal, and it is difficult
     to confirm his interpretation that any of the material comes from
     a bird."  These were unusually bold charges about a colleague ,
     and a work not yet published.
          Larry Martin jumped to Chatterjee's defense, calling
     Padian's criticism a regrettable instance of "personalizing
     a debate and ignoring the evidence that conflicts with his
--- end excerpts

Mickey Rowe     (rowe@lepomis.psych.upenn.edu)